10 things you should know before moving to Germany
Garden gnomes, socks in sandals, reserving deckchairs with bath towels – some clichés about the Germans are persistent. Without wanting to lapse into stereotypes about a specific behavior, however, it is always possible to observe a few very special country-specific circumstances that are simply “typically German” and which many Expats would have wished they had known about before they arrived in Germany. HereLocation has compiled 10 partly bizarre, partly funny facts, which international transferees should at least have heard about before they move to Germany.
#1 – Germany is recycling world champion
The Germans love order. And this is reflected in the way they separate waste. No other country recycles as much as Germany. In order to make this work, the garbage in this country is neatly separated according to the materials of which it is made. Every household has a yellow bin for packaging materials, a blue bin for paper, a brown or green bin for biologically recyclable waste materials, and a black bin for residual waste. But that’s not all: In addition, Germany introduced a sophisticated deposit system several years ago for almost all glass and plastic bottles and for beverage cans that have to be returned to the shop for recycling. No wonder that many Expats would like to have a manual on waste separation when they come to Germany.
#2 – Germany, the cash country
While in many European and non-European countries it is common practice to pay even the smallest amounts with the card, in Germany, people look at you crookedly when you pull out your card for payment of a few euros. In fact, the Germans love their cash. As before, the majority of transactions are still carried out using cash. Nobody knows exactly why. Some say that it serves to protect privacy, others think that cash makes it easier to keep track of one’s spending. Be that as it may, when you move to Germany, you should be prepared for the thought that you may not be able to pay by card in small shops, restaurants, and cafés.
#3 – Rest periods are there to be respected
The Spanish love their siesta, the Germans their Sunday. Many Expats are not used to being condemned to do nothing on this day of rest, as all shops are closed. But what is even more important are the rest times during the midday and night time. These are even required by law. Then one should not only refrain from listening to loud music or mowing the lawn. Sometimes it can also lead to disputes with the neighbors if you vacuum, run the washing machine, or even take a shower during these periods. For this reason, many rental contracts sometimes contain special clauses that prohibit such activities.
#4 – Five minutes before time is punctuality
If you ask Expats what they perceive as typically German, the answer very often is punctuality. In fact, punctuality plays a major role in this country. Anyone who is late for an appointment and keeps others waiting is quickly considered rude. In the case of official appointments, it can even happen that the appointment is no longer available if you arrive late. Expats should take German punctuality into account, especially when looking for accommodation. The housing market is highly competitive in many German cities, including Bonn. If you show up too late at the viewing appointment, you can practically forget about the apartment.
#5 – The Germans and their car
In Germany, rules are taken seriously and are strictly followed. There are rules, regulations, and restrictions for even the most unusual situations. There is only one issue on which Germans are stubbornly opposed: a general speed limit even on motorways. There are only a few countries in the world where there is no general speed limit. And that includes Germany, along with Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Nepal. Here, the speed on motorways is recommended 130 km/h, but in some places speeds of 200 km/h or more are permitted. The speed limit obviously touches the soul of the Germans more than other matters. The pride of the Germans is and remains the car. And when you see the fervor with which German husbands care for their cars, you might think that they love their cars even more than their own wives. If your car is so dear to your heart that you want to take it with you when you move to Germany, we will gladly help you with the import. HereLocation also supports you with all other car-related matters, such as the transfer of your driver’s license.
#6 – Duzen vs. Siezen
The Germans place great value on politeness. This is expressed in the use of language. Thus, unlike in English, there is a special word form in German that is supposed to express respect for the addressee. This “Sie” is generally used when addressing foreign or unfamiliar adults. Whoever calls a salesman, a civil servant, or the landlord “du” when viewing an apartment, will most likely get a nasty look. Sometimes, however, it can also happen that colleagues who have known each other for years are still using the form of address because no one has yet suggested changing to the “you”. Among young people, on the other hand, it is common to be on first-name terms with each other even if they don’t know each other yet.
#7 – Love of soccer
Germans love soccer. And that applies not only to active participation on the football field but also to passive participation in the stadium or on the sofa at home. This love of soccer goes so far that just in time for the World Cup the national flags are taken out of the cellar to decorate the house, yard, and car with them. At any other time, so much nationalism is frowned upon in this country and is not welcome.
#8 – German Carnival
The carnival in Rio is world-famous – but so is the one in Cologne. Just in time for Weiberfastnacht, all of Cologne and many other cities in the Rhineland and southern Germany are turned upside down. Everywhere people laugh, dance, and celebrate. This state of emergency lasts until Violet Tuesday before Lent begins on the following Ash Wednesday. Here in Bonn, too, the carnival is one of the biggest events of the year. Indeed, Weiberfastnacht found its origin with the storming of the town hall by the laundry women in the Bonn district Beuel.
#9 – The national drink of the Germans
The Germans are at least as proud of their beer as they are of their cars. Augustiner, Erdinger, Paulaner, Gaffel Kölsch – the list of good German beers is long. German beer owes its fame not least to its purity law, which stipulates that beer should only be made from hops, malt, yeast, and water.
#10 – German rules, sometimes contradictory
We have already mentioned that the Germans are fixated on rules. That these rules are sometimes so contradictory that they sometimes cause headaches not only for Expats, not yet. For example, you need a bank account to obtain SCHUFA information, which is almost obligatory when looking for an apartment. To open a bank account, however, you need a confirmation of registration. To avoid getting lost in the jungle of authorities, HereLocation helps you with all administrative steps around your relocation to Bonn. We support you not only in bureaucratic matters but also in finding accommodation, school, and kindergarten. Get a first overview of our versatile relocation services or contact us directly if you are interested in our services. We look forward to hearing from you and perhaps welcoming you to Germany soon!